Subject: Mobile Black Spots Program
Luke Grant: David Coleman, thank you for calling in. I’m sure you’d agree that this looks like pork barrelling. Talk about hypocrisy. They’ve spent a lot of their time on opposition pointing the finger at the then Government and the first chance they get to do this. It’s extraordinary.
David Coleman: It is extraordinary Luke. This is dodgy. That’s the bottom line. Labor’s got a third of the seats in regional areas. But guess what, Michelle Rowland allocated 74% of the locations to Labor electorates. The Coalition’s got more than 60% of seats in rural areas, but only 20% of the funding has gone to Coalition electorates. So, this is black and white. It is a clear misuse of taxpayer funds. When you think about it, there is no way that you can possibly justify this list other than the list has been created to benefit the Labor Party.
Luke Grant: If you look at New South Wales where I think, 25 of 26 seats were Labor held seats. You don’t need any more proof than that. If you consider what this is about, areas where reception isn’t great. I think we would all appreciate and accept that mostly that happens in regional areas and the vast majority of regional Australia is represented by Coalition parties. So, you’ve only got to look at the state of New South Wales and go there is something really odd here. I’m intrigued to know what the TEALS will do David because they went to the last election saying, we’ve got to stand up for integrity in Parliament. There’s got to be a Federal ICAC, etcetera, they should be hopping mad. Have you heard?
David Coleman: That’s a very good point, Luke. And short answer is, no I haven’t of yet, and they absolutely should, because this is about integrity in Government. It’s about Government doing what it says it will do. You recall, as you mentioned that the Labor Party was very, very focused on grants programs and a lot of discussion about grants programs previously, but this Government has been in for nearly 300 days now. And this is a clear rort. It is clearly politically biased. It’s frankly, unjustifiable in any other way. The Minister, I mean, she hasn’t denied this. She hasn’t said no, it’s not true, it’s not 74% Labor. The reason she hasn’t denied it is because she can’t because it is true. There’s no way to justify it other than politically. Like Angus Taylor’s electorates a good example between Sydney and Canberra. A lot of issues with mobile black spots there in a town called Crookwell. They didn’t get a cent. In Victoria, there’s not a single Coalition electorate, that got one location. So, they have been caught red handed here and the Minister’s silence is a bit deafening. We’re not hearing much from her on this and I suspect she doesn’t want to talk about it.
Luke Grant: Well, that’s probably right. But you know what, David, this is so brazen, as to have me sitting here and wondering if there isn’t an intelligence or IQ issue around this. Who could think that on election, having spent the last three years potting your side of politics, including, I think rightfully in some instances, having a go with spot rorts and one or two other things that they could within, you say 300 days that they could just do it and no one will notice. I mean, it’s almost impossible to comprehend what’s going on here. What can you do next?
David Coleman: Well, I think the first thing is, let’s hear from the Minister. I mean, I think the Minister needs to hold a press conference on this. I think she needs to answer questions from the media. She hasn’t done that as yet. And let’s hear what she says. I mean, she appears to have directed her department personally to do this. It appears that zero out of 54 locations were chosen on the advice of her department, and 54 out of 54 were chosen by her, to benefit the Labor Party. Now, if she’s got a different interpretation, come on out and say it. I think that’s the first thing. There’s obviously other options that are open to us. In terms of getting information through different avenues in the Government. But I think the first step is, let’s hear from the Minister. It’s her program, if she’s proud of it, if she thinks this is good, come on out and talk to the people about it and explain why this is a good thing.
Luke Grant: Yeah, exactly. Own it. Isn’t this the same Minister that had a trip to the Melbourne Cup or something sponsored by a betting agency? Is that right?
David Coleman: Yes, it is. I think this issue around the blackspots is an issue of integrity. I mean, how can you go to an election saying, we’re going to be doing all of the following things, we’re going to ensure everything is done perfectly in all cases, and then you turn around and you do a blatantly politically biased thing like this, which is clearly a misuse of taxpayers money.
Luke Grant: Yeah, I agree. Good to talk. David. We’ll keep on this. No doubt you will too. Appreciate your time.
David Coleman: Thanks Luke.
The Hon. David Coleman MP
Shadow Minister for Communications
Federal Member for Banks